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NI Human Rights Commission’s Chief Commissioner responds to UK Government Abortion Regulations

19 May 2022

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission’s Chief Commissioner has responded to the statement on abortion services issued today in Parliament by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Chief Commissioner, Alyson Kilpatrick, stated:

"Today’s announcement is a positive one which lays the foundations for the commissioning of abortion services, however we are concerned that there is no deadline specified for services to be made available.

It is now over one year on from the last High Court challenge and we need to see practical steps to ensure abortion services are in place across Northern Ireland. The High Court confirmed that the Secretary of State is under a duty to act expeditiously. Services were due to be in place by 31 March.

Women and girls need to be offered adequate abortion services in Northern Ireland. The ongoing delay to their human rights being protected is unacceptable.

The Commission will continue to monitor the implementation to ensure all relevant human rights obligations are being met.”

Notes to editors

  1. Today’ statement from the Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis on the commissioning of abortion services in Northern Ireland can be viewed here.
  2. You can read the Commission’s statement from 14 October 2021 to the High Court judgment in its judicial review challenge to: the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; the NI Executive; and, the Department of Health for Northern Ireland. The challenge was in respect of the failure to commission and fund abortion services in Northern Ireland. The Secretary of State remains under a statutory duty to act expeditiously, which was confirmed by the High Court last year. The Department of Health, which the Court found last year to have delayed, failed to put in place a service by 31 March as per the Abortion Regulations.
  3. The NI Human Rights Commission is a statutory public body established in 1999 to promote and protect human rights. In accordance with the Paris Principles the Commission reviews the adequacy and effectiveness of measures undertaken by the UK Government to promote and protect human rights, specifically within Northern Ireland

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